This is a love letter.
You know the old saying: ‘Out of sight, out of mind”? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth for me. The longer you are away, the more I miss you. Every saying has its opposite. With you, it’s definitely a matter of ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
It’s just not the same without you. Summer is on its way and the stage is set. And yes, of course, I completely understand why you can’t be here. It’s not your fault. You are a stickler for the rules and are rightly taking your responsibilities seriously. I know we need to do the right thing and stay apart.
My head tells me this. Of course, it does. But my heart? It longs for you.
I miss the sight of you. The theatre of green in which you play out your many acts. The drama of each moment, rich with potential, as something might happen, or not, with the very next ball. The eager mobilisation of the players, white-clad on the green grass, at the end of the over.
I miss the sound of you. The thud of ball on ‘deck’; the solid ‘thock’ of willow on leather that sets off a soothing ripple of applause. The charged, low rev, anticipatory silence between balls. The slow-moving silence of quiet overs, where sleep seems just around the corner. The eruption of a wicket. The sporting greeting of seeing a new adversary to the crease. The push and pull of players calling to each other. ‘Come on buddy’. ‘Next ball’. ‘Nice areas’. You can be quite noisy too. Remember Saturdays at Headingley. Quite the party animal…
I miss the shape of you. Whether it’s the Friday night friskiness of T20 or the sedate Sunday best of a test. Or on your days off, casually attired in the back garden. You look great in anything, really. I was looking forward to seeing you in your new Hundred get-up.
I miss the smell of you. Cut grass. Linseed oil. The occasional waft of beer or ice cream on a gentle summer breeze. Other people’s fancy picnics.
I miss the way you talk. All stats and facts; and poetry and jokes and random diversions; the idle chat; the shared speculation.
And, your greatest charm: uncertainty of outcome.
It’s true, I’m remembering the very best of you. The perfect days we had together. You do have your moments: rainy days when the covers stay on and you refuse to come out to play; dull days when you can’t find a way to make life interesting. Honestly, though, those grey days don’t linger in the memory.
And until you do, I’m going to read your old love letters. I shan’t dwell on the difficult days. I’m going to look at photos and films of what we did last summer. Lord’s, then Headingley. Wow. Or our trips to Australia – say, Melbourne 2010? Other happy times at home: Edgbaston or Old Trafford in 2005. Or back again to Headingley, in 1981, when we were just starting out together. Ah, those early days…
And so on, I’ll keep playing back the memories until you’re back here by my side.
A summer without you? It’s just not cricket. So, please, come back soon.